“It’s the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine, I feel fine.” — Michael Stipe
Author’s note: The blog will be going on hiatus for a week. It is finally time to get some rest and relaxation. I’m not even sure if I will be following current events during the week, but we will be back a week from Monday either way.
It’s hard to get away from grief. I’ve seen and heard it everywhere. I am involved in a makeshift Zoom support group that covers topics on mental health. Our next assigned topic is grief. Then, I read John Pavlovitz’s last piece on grief and of course you get inundated every day with others’ grief on social media. It’s not a bad thing necessarily. People feel better when they share. It just forces us to deal with our own stuff.
I think what hits me more than anything is the grief over what has happened to us as a country. If one were to define grief, they would define it as something we’ve lost. Most of the time that is a person in our life. It is a family member, a friend, or someone we work with. A lot of the time it is death, but it could simply be the end of a relationship.
We grieve other things as well. We grieve the end of a chapter of our lives. That could be childhood in general. It could be the end of a career or a particular job. It could be watching the end of a particular stage in our children’s lives. With loss comes change and change can be a scary thing. Sometimes it is for the better, but it often brings unique challenges we might not be prepared to face.
Today, I find myself grieving the loss of a nation. No, the United States hasn’t gone anywhere technically. Yet, many have called it the greatest country in the world. No, I’m not going to launch into a “we used to be the greatest country in the world” tirade like on HBO. After all, what we rank in math, science, literacy, or anything else has little to do with why we were the greatest country in the world.
We were the greatest country because we had some of the greatest problems in the world. We had the greatest problems and we were always willing to tackle them. Sometimes we won and sometimes we lost, but we never backed down from a fight. Moreover, we usually found the better angels of our nature. Goodness knows it was never easy, but we found it within ourselves to fight.
Whether it was the battle over all types of equality, suffrage, or simply getting a handle on our own limitations and prejudices we managed to overcome for the most part. Unlike most wars, these battles are never over and the job is never complete. Yet, some people want to declare victory and move on.
We used to be the greatest country in the world. We aren’t the greatest country anymore. We aren’t because we are no longer willing to even try to tackle the problems before us. It isn’t even so much whether we solve those problems necessarily. We aren’t even willing to try. We deny they exist. Out of sight and out of mind.
Grief is a deeply personal thing. When one grieves a loss that is not tangible it becomes especially difficult. Do we hang on with quiet desperation? Do we find ourselves living in the past and reminiscing on better times? In the case of grieving the loss of a nation we can choose to bail or we can refuse to admit defeat. We can shout from the rooftops that the job is not yet done. We can vote out those that refuse to even address the real problems we have. That will be my choice. The rest is up to you.